Kugelhopf

Bread wears hats.

Sometimes, it wears a dinner hat. Other times, it may wear a lunch hat. In rare and sometimes surprising situations, it may even wear a breakfast hat (more on this in the weeks to come).

A hat that most people don’t assume bread wears is the dessert hat.

aslace dessert

If you’re anything like me, in your mind’s eye you have now pictured several loaves of various breads wearing a variety of hats positioned at fashionable, jaunty angles, posing for elaborate photoshoots with fancy backdrops and an array of props and are chuckling to yourself at how silly that must look. You probably aren’t like me, which is good, because that means that I get to corner the market on headwear for bread (breadwear?) and make probably no money doing so. Be jealous.

So yeah. Uh.

Sometimes I like to eat bread for dessert. It’s not as weird as it sounds. You may have even done it at some point in time in your life and been completely unaware that the cake you were consuming was actually bread all along. The only real difference between bread and cake is water content. Add enough water to a batch of bread dough to make it into a pourable batter and you get cake. Probably gross cake with the wrong ratios of fat, sugar, and other ingredients, but cake nonetheless. Likewise, if you added less water to a batch of cake batter you could end up with a doughy, kneadable cake that, if you used yeast instead of baking soda and baking powder and bread flour instead of cake flour, actually might be pretty good.

That’s pretty much what a kugelhopf is.

Kugelhopf

Viennese in origin (debated in some circles), kugelhopf is pretty much a slack brioche dough with raisins that is baked in a bundt pan and then positively drowned in sugar syrup. The techniques used in making this bread are a bit different than previous breads I’ve discussed, as this particular dough is far softer and sloppier. The more water and fat you jam into a dough, the more difficult it is to deal with. Having a stand mixer with a paddle attachment makes this dough-making process a breeze, but it is not necessary. You can do it by hand, once you’ve mastered an interesting skill called the “slap and fold,” which is sure to impress your friends and family. At some point I’ll create a video tutorial for this method, but for now, I’ll assume you know how to do it. You can also just have at it normal-kneading-style, but it may take you a bit because the dough is so goopy.

Scroll to the end to get an express version of this recipe, if you believe you have the bread making balls to make it happen sans instructions.

Things you will need:

  • Bread flour, milk (or water and milk powder), butter, eggs, white sugar, salt, instant yeast, and some good rum.
  • A bundt pan.
  • A digital scale.
  • A medium to large sized mixing bowl.
  • A standard frying pan.
  • A pastry brush.
  • Spray oil.
  • Plastic wrap.
  • Brown sugar and/or sliced almonds.

A bundt pan is needed for this recipe. You could make one without a bundt pan, but then you’d just be making a boring old sweet loaf of bread. A bundt pan serves a few purposes here. It will give your loaf a cool-looking, decorative form that will have people think you’re very talented. It provides a hard surface for the dough to cling to and rise with. It allows you to bake it upside-down, which allows us to harness the power of gravity to infuse an ungodly amount of sugar in the bread after it is baked. This is the best part. Feel free to bake this bread sans-bundt if you really want to, but everyone needs a good bundt pan in their kitchen arsenal. Go get one. You deserve it.

This recipe will yield one regular – sized bundt pan of kugelhopf. If you have a smaller or larger bundt pan, then your results may vary.

Ingredients:

Gugelhupf 27

  • Bread flour –
    • 1st step: 134 grams (255 ml (about one cup))
    • 2nd step: 312 grams (614 ml (about 2 & 1/2 cups))
  • Milk: 134 grams (134 ml (about 1/2 a cup and 2 tsp))
    • Alternatively, you can use 134 grams of water and 20 grams of milk powder.
  • Instant Yeast: 12 grams (19 ml (about 1 tsp and 1 tbsp.)
  • Sugar: 89 grams (104 ml (about 1/4 a cup minus 1 tbsp)
  • Salt: 9 grams (10 ml (about two teaspoons))
  • Eggs: 154 grams (about 3 large eggs)
  • Raisins: 100 grams (Roughly 1/3rd of a cup)
  • Softened Butter: 178 grams (196 ml (about 3/4 of a cup)

Do note that these ingredients are only for the bread itself. We will be using some more white sugar and water to create the syrup at a later stage.

Method:

Begin by mixing the milk, yeast, and the first amount of bread flour together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Let this mixture sit until it has roughly doubled in size. Usually, this won’t take more than about 30 minutes. This is called making a “sponge,” if you were curious. By letting the yeast sit in the milk & flour mixture, we are jumpstarting the process of fermentation. By the time the mixture is mixed into the rest of the ingredients, it will already be well underway on the fermentative journey.

Skipping this step will give you a much slower dough in terms of rising speed. Breads that are very high in fat and sugar, as our dear kugelhopf most assuredly is, are not the best environments for yeast to propagate in.

While this is happening, prepare the raisins. It is important that any dried fruit added to a dough is hydrated first, as dried fruit is “hygroscopic” in that it will suck in moisture from its surrounding environment. Dried raisins will suck delicious moisture from the dough as it bakes, which is not ideal. We need to satiate those thirsty raisins with moisture before they get tossed in, and this can take a good 30 minutes or so. Put the raisins in a bowl and put about two tablespoons of warm water on them, stirring to mix it up. Alternatively, and I highly, highly recommend you do this, you can soak them in alcohol instead. This cake is supposed to be infused with rum flavors, so what better way to do so than by soaking the raisins in a bunch of rum? Toss in two tablespoons of delicious rum and let it hang out for about 30 minutes, or until you are ready to add them to the dough. I chose to use “Honey Shine,” which is a rum distilled from mead, which is an alcoholic beverage made from distilling honey. Viking juice. The stuff they drink in all those fantasy movies and video games. It’s a super tasty rum that’s produced on Vancouver Island that I recommend trying, if you can find it. Check out their website here.

 

The next step is to mix the rest of the ingredients into your sponge, except for the butter. The amount of butter in this dough is pretty funny, and adding it now would only make your already tough job tougher. By incorporating the butter after the dough has already been mixed and kneaded properly, we are giving the gluten a better chance at developing. Extra fat at this step would hinder that process, resulting in a frustrated baker and a sub-par cake, neither of which are the desired outcome of this blog.

 

Mix it in the bowl until you can’t, then dump it out onto your clean and sanitized work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth, soft, springy, and delightful.

kugelhopf 282

If there are tears in the dough, as above, that’s not a huge deal. The dough does not have to be 100% kneaded to perfection at this point in time, as we are definitely going back in for round two (and an eventual round 3).

Get your butter. All of it.

Butterybread

This may seem daunting, or even gross. If this makes you uncomfortable, persevere. Delicious bread is worth the discomfort of handling so much butter. It’s easiest to put the dough back in the mixing bowl and the butter on top, then just get your hands in there and squish the crap out of it until the butter begins to absorb into the dough. Once it’s kind of coming together, dump it back onto the work surface, scraping out the bowl as best you can, and keep going at it. You should be able to get a very smooth, very nice dough after kneading this thoroughly.

Make sure you continually scrape your work surface with a dough-scraper, as it most certainly will stick to it. As you knead it more and more, the dough will come together and not be so sloppy. I promise you, this dough will return to a normal-dough status after enough kneading. You can fit a lot more butter into a dough than we have here. Trust me.

Remember those raisins? Now it’s time to add them to the dough as well. Smoosh your dough out flat, dump the raisins on, along with any rum left in the bowl, and knead it up until it is smooth and uniform once again. You will have little raisin bits poking out of your dough. This is fine.

Now that the hard work is done, it’s time to let the dough do its first rest. Coat the mixing bowl with spray oil, toss in the dough, spray that too, then cover it in plastic wrap. Let it rest for 20 minutes. In the mean time, we can prepare the bundt pan itself.

We’re gonna need more butter.

Take a bunch of soft butter and generously shmear it all around the interior of the bundt pan, including the centre post. The butter will add flavor, prevent the dough from sticking, and, most importantly, allow the brown sugar that you’re going to dump in next to adhere to the walls of the pan. Proceed with the sugar dumping. Coat every surface of the pan interior in as much sugar as possible. Swirl the sugar around until its evenly coated, then gently dump out the excess. The brown sugar/butter combo will create a most delicious outer layer for your budding breadcake and looks mighty impressive when it’s done.

Back to the dough.

Once your twenty or so minutes is up, and your dough has noticeably poofed, you can shape it into the appropriate shape for your bundt pan. GENTLY remove the dough from the bowl, placing it upside down on your work surface. Using your fingers, stab a hole down through the centre and widen it just enough so that the dough can slip over the centre post of the bundt pan.

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Now, we wait.

The dough needs to rise for probably close to two hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. It won’t move a great deal, but rest assured that it will rise mightily in the oven.  Alternatively, you can wrap the whole pan up and toss it in the fridge overnight, giving it a nice, cold rise. Even then, it won’t move a great deal. If you do fridge it, let it rest on the table for one hour before you bake it.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

When the hour has passed, put your kugelhopf in the oven and knock the temperature down to 375. Set a time for 20 minutes. When it goes off, rotate your kugelhopf and take note of how dark the top is. If you notice it becoming too dark, take it out, cover it gently with tin foil, and put it back in. It needs to bake longer than you think, probably closer to 40 minutes. The interior of the dough surrounding the centre post takes awhile to set nicely. Resist the urge to pull it out early. If you have any toothpicks on hand, use a toothpick to test the cake nearest to the post. If it comes out clean, you’re good to go.

While your cake is in the oven, now is the perfect time to make your sugar syrup. Put 500 grams of white sugar and 500 grams of water in a frying pan or sauce pan. Set the temperature to medium-high and let it cook until it’s reached a temperature of about 100 degrees centigrade, or, once it’s reached a roaring simmer, let it simmer for about 5 minutes, give or take. You don’t want to get a thick, pancake-syrup like texture. The idea is that the cake will soak in the syrup, passing the flavor from the outside to the inside. If your syrup is too thick, it will have a harder time penetrating the outer layers. Once your syrup is at the desired consistency, take it off the heat and stir in about 3 tablespoons of rum. Rum is good. More is better.

Dessert Bread

When your cake is done, take it out of the oven and marvel at it. It looks glorious, but it is not done yet. Take a toothpick or a small, sharp knife, and start poking holes. Don’t be afraid of poking dozens and dozens of holes; the more holes, the more syrup will percolate down and make your bread awesome. Once you’ve poked it enough, use a pastry brush and start brushing on the syrup. You will have lots of syrup. The dough will drink all of it. Brush some on. Wait. Brush more on. Repeat. The syrup will absorb through the holes and into the dough. I usually spend a good ten minutes on this step. I want to ensure that the interior of the kugelhopf has a nice, sweet, rummy flavour.

Once you’re satisfied, upend the kugelhopf onto a cooling rack, preferably with a baking sheet or a bunch of paper towel below it. Syrup is sticky, and cleanup can be a pain.

aslace dessert

Notice the nuts on the above kugelhopf. You can add sliced almonds or pecans or anything you want to the bundt pan before you toss your dough in. The sky’s the limit in terms of decorative nuts for kugelhopf.

DessertKeep brushing on more syrup. Pour some on, wait, pour more on. You have lots of syrup to use, so you may as well use it all. The syrup coating will help to create a nice flavour, a delightful exterior texture, and will help to seal in moisture so that your kugelhopf doesn’t dry out on the inside. It should be a proud, glistening mound of sugar encrusted sin by the time you are done.

Finalhopf

Carmelized, buttery, rummy, sticky, awesome. This cake is best enjoyed with an after-dinner coffee and good company. If you bust this bad boy out at your next soiree, dinner party, or “Magic: The Gathering” play session, you’ll be sure to make lots of friends and gain several pounds.

There’s a lot of information to take in here, but don’t be disheartened. It’s not too tough to pull off, especially if you’ve already gotten your feet wet with some simpler bread recipes. All this cake happens to be is a slightly wetter basic bread dough with way more butter and sugar added to it, baked in a weird pan. Nothing more. Don’t be fooled. This is still just basic stuff, only repackaged in a delightful shape and served with a worrying amount of calories.

Also, it’s the best use for a bundt pan I’ve seen yet.

— The Breadest

 

EXPRECIPE:

Ingredients:

  • Bread flour –
    • 1st step: 134 grams (255 ml (about one cup))
    • 2nd step: 312 grams (614 ml (about 2 & 1/2 cups))
  • Milk: 134 grams (134 ml (about 1/2 a cup and 2 tsp))
    • Alternatively, you can use 134 grams of water and 20 grams of milk powder.
  • Instant Yeast: 12 grams (19 ml (about 1 tsp and 1 tbsp.)
  • Sugar: 89 grams (104 ml (about 1/4 a cup minus 1 tbsp)
  • Salt: 9 grams (10 ml (about two teaspoons))
  • Eggs: 154 grams (about 3 large eggs)
  • Raisins: 100 grams (Roughly 1/3rd of a cup)
  • Softened Butter: 178 grams (196 ml (about 3/4 of a cup)

Method:

Weigh it.

Mix it.

Sponge it.

Mix it.

Knead it.

Butter it.

Knead it.

Raisin it.

Rest it.

Butter it more.

Proof it.

Bake it.

Syrup it.

Brush it.

Soak it.

Slather it.

EAT IT.

 

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